The Passion and Power of the Female Poets from Africa
April is National Poetry Month in the United States where I live, and a good time to celebrate some of my favorite female poets from Africa who, in breaking down barriers are serving up equal amounts of power and passion through their poetry.
Warsan Shire. 2014’s Young Poet Laureate of London (the city where she grew up), Shire was born in Kenya to Somali parents. Her poetry is provocative and nostalgic, wisely using words to hearken the immigrant experience, as in the enchantingly spirited and evocative poem called Home:
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
Upile Chisala. The Malawian poet who has two anthologies: soft magic and Nectar and whose poems explore the issues of gender and identity. In a recent interview she says: I want my writing to be a place where black girls and black women feel safe and celebrated.
I write you poems because God spoke the universe
so don’t ever let me hear you say that words are just
words don’t leave a mark,
make a change,
create where once was nothing.
Twitter : @beingupile
Ijeoma Umebinyuo. This Nigerian poet’s anthology called Questions for Ada is a soulful and introspective masterpiece trasnscending cultures to explore the passion and pain of women everywhere.
“you are beautiful”
I told him
is a lazy and lousy way to describe me.
Ketty Nivyabandi. A target of political persecution in her native Burundi, her poems (written in French) are deeply profound and exquisitely lyrical.
Je me souviens de toi
Une étincelle qui dechire la nuite bleue
Des semences qui cherche les cieux
Des étoiles témoins des hommes
Un chant serré au chaud dans les dos rêveurs
Des femmes sentant le beurre